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Important Tips

Tip #10
Independently document your symptoms, medication side effects, doctors’ visits, and general wellness as much as you can. Medical records often have errors or do not completely reflect what was discussed during your visits. Keeping your own log

Tip #4
Be truthful and thorough when you present your medical conditions, especially if you have co-morbid or multiple conditions.

When, Where and Why File a Disability Lawsuit:

When you can file a lawsuit depends on several factors. Most importantly, the law that applies to your disability benefits impacts when (and where) you can file a lawsuit. If ERISA applies to your disability policy, then typically, you have to exhaust the internal appeals process before you can file a lawsuit. [link to Appeals section] Under ERISA, the general rule is that you cannot bypass the insurance company and go straight to court without participating in this appeals process. However, if your claim is subject to State law, then you may not need to appeal and other options may be available to you.

Generally, ERISA disability cases are litigated in Federal District court. Insurance Bad Faith claims where ERISA does not apply, are litigated in State court. Other factors to consider when filing a lawsuit include the strength of your individual claim, as well as any time limitations on how long you have to bring a lawsuit.

If you have questions about whether you should file a lawsuit, contact us for a free consultation on how to proceed.

What Can You Recover from a Lawsuit?

The relief available in non-ERISA cases is broader. Determining whether ERISA applies is very important and often challenging. Sometimes, the court must make that determination. Whether your case is governed by ERISA has a huge impact on how long and how expensive the litigation will be, as well as how much you may recover.

ERISA limits claimants to “equitable” relief. Equitable remedies do not allow the recovery of future disability benefits. Even if you prove you are permanently disabled, a court will not order the insurance company to pay your future benefits. Winning an ERISA lawsuit usually means an award of past-due benefits and either a remand of your disability claim or the resumption of monthly benefits. You may also be entitled to an award of attorneys’ fees and costs. ERISA does not permit you to recover emotional distress or punitive damages.

ERISA sometimes provides other relief in the form of a statutory penalty if a plan does not promptly provide copies of plan documents. If the disability plan or insurance company breaches its fiduciary duties, you could be entitled to recover more. However, any remedy for a breach of fiduciary duty is limited to equitable relief.

In non-ERISA cases, the potential recovery is much greater. You could not only recover wrongfully withheld benefits, including future benefits, but also seek damages for Bad Faith. This includes damages caused by the manner in which the short or long term disability claim was handled. Bad faith damages include: emotional distress, damages caused by delaying payment, and sometimes, punitive damages to deter the wrongdoing moving forward.

If your case is not governed by ERISA, you may file in state or federal court depending on the amount of money at stake and where the defendants (insurance companies) are located. Even when you have the choice of filing in either state or federal court, that choice will be influenced by the laws of the state, the location of the courts, the potential jury pool, or even by rules of court. Because a jury decides non-ERISA or Insurance Bad Faith cases, the judge’s impact is somewhat less. The judge will still decide legal issues, admissibility of evidence, and control the conduct of the trial, but the jury will decide the facts and make the ultimate decision of the disability lawsuit.

We take great pride in trying to secure the most relief possible for our clients, regardless of the law that applies. Contact us for a free analysis on the law that applies to your disability insurance claims and what relief might be available to you.

Don’t Give Up or Go It Alone. Let Us Fight for Long Term Disability Benefits You Deserve.

We Handle the Insurance Companies so You Can Focus on Your Health.

NO FEES UNLESS WE WIN YOUR CASE.

How Long Does a Disability Lawsuit Take?

Litigation is usually a long and unpredictable process that can add up. Some cases take years to resolve, while others resolve in a matter of months. Most ERISA lawsuits resolve without the court making a decision on the merits in the first year of being filed. If they do not resolve, then the case is usually ready for a court’s determination within 18 to 24 months. However, judges can take several months (sometimes even years) to issue a ruling, even after being provided with all of the evidence to consider.

While several factors can impact the timeline of a case, we are committed to keeping you informed every step of the way. Our consultations are free and typically we charge no fees unless we win your case. Don’t give up on disability benefits you rightly deserve. This is what insurance companies hope you will do so they don’t have to pay you.

Can We Guarantee We Will Win Your Lawsuit?

No law firm can guarantee the outcome of a case. In fact, you should be wary of any law firm that claims to guarantee the success of lawsuits. What we can guarantee is that our highly experienced LTD attorneys focus exclusively on disability law and can provide a very knowledgeable opinion of the chances of success. Success depends on a number of factors, some of which are outside of the lawyers’ control, like the strength of the facts, the law governing your policy, the evidence and witnesses. While no firm can guarantee a win despite their and your best efforts, we do guarantee our commitment to reach our clients’ litigation goals, to work diligently to achieve the best possible result, and to treat you with kindness and respect throughout the process.

Process of Disability Lawsuits: ERISA Versus State Law Cases

No law firm can guarantee the outcome of a case. In fact, you should be wary of any law firm that claims to guarantee the success of lawsuits. What we can guarantee is that our highly experienced LTD attorneys focus exclusively on disability law and can provide a very knowledgeable opinion of the chances of success. Success depends on a number of factors, some of which are outside of the lawyers’ control, like the strength of the facts, the law governing your policy, the evidence and witnesses. While no firm can guarantee a win despite their and your best efforts, we do guarantee our commitment to reach our clients’ litigation goals, to work diligently to achieve the best possible result, and to treat you with kindness and respect throughout the process.

If ERISA applies to your disability policy, there are a number of unique obstacles to success. These are most important:

  1. ERISA litigation is not like other types of litigation. There is limited opportunity to gather new evidence, no actual trial, and no right to a jury. The case will be decided by a judge, who is usually limited to reviewing the evidence developed during the internal appeal process and whose ability to overturn a benefit decision is limited. ERISA allows disability plans to reserve to itself the authority to interpret and apply the benefit plan. When a plan does this, the court generally defers to the insurance company’s or plan administrator’s benefit decision.  Even if the judge disagrees with the decision, the judge must affirm it if there is any reasonable basis in the record to support it. To reverse a benefit decision, the judge must find that the decision was “arbitrary and capricious.”  This is a relatively high burden.
  2. When it comes to ERISA, there is no such thing as “the law.” ERISA provides rules and procedures, but Congress left it to the courts to develop case law to interpret and apply ERISA. Because multiple federal jurisdictions exist, the law in each jurisdiction depends on how the judges in that jurisdiction decided a particular issue. Until the Unites States Supreme Court decides an issue, how an issue will be decided may depend on the federal circuit in which you litigate or even the individual judge. In the absence of controlling authority, the “the law” is what the judge says it is.  The judge, therefore, can have an enormous impact on the case.
  3. Federal judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The process is decidedly political. Judges tend to be “liberal” or “conservative.” A judge’s views are often shaped by past employment. Judges may have represented individuals against employers or insurance companies, defended employers or insurers, been criminal prosecutors or defense attorneys, or come out of other government employment. Judges rely on their experience when making decisions. That experience sometimes predicts how a judge will resolve a close issue of fact or law. Judges with different philosophical views can look at the same law or facts and come to very different conclusions. Consider how many Supreme Court decisions are not unanimous despite all the Justices looking at the same facts are applying the same law. Conservative judges tend to be pro-business or pro-government. Liberal judges may lean towards individual rights.
  4. Very few lawyers litigate ERISA cases. ERISA is a complicated and complex area of law. Most judges’ first experience with an ERISA case is after being appointed as a judge. This requires lawyers to “educate” the judge. Naturally, attorneys on opposite sides of case will direct a judge’s attention to the facts and law most favorable to their client. Which attorney’s analysis a judge adopts can depend on the judge’s philosophy or experience, how well an issue is briefed, the credibility of the lawyer at oral argument, or any number of factors of which the lawyers will never be aware.
  5. As stated above, cases interpreting ERISA vary by jurisdiction. The jurisdiction in which your case may be filed may affect how your case is decided. Some jurisdictions have interpreted ERISA more favorably for claimants than others. Even within a jurisdiction the law can change during the litigation if a higher court reverses a decision.

How We Help
Our firm practices exclusively in disability law. Our highly experienced ERISA and Insurance Bad Faith attorneys know how to fight insurance company giants to get the short term and long term disability benefits you deserve. Our firm also provides Social Security Disability experts and attorneys. This is particularly helpful and convenient as many LTD policies require you to also file for Social Security Disability Insurance to offset benefits the insurance company pays. With us, everything can be handled in one place. We’ve recovered millions in disability benefits for our clients. We can help you too.

We Serve All of Arizona

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ChandlerGilbertTempePeoria
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and anywhere YOU are in AZ.

Choosing our Arizona Disability Attorneys provides advantages you can’t get from national firms and non-local advocates.

We’re Here for You.
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Free Consultation. No Fees Until We Win You Benefits.